More food bank clients homeless

Mosgiel Community Food Bank co-ordinator Michelle Kerr and Taieri Christian Care Trust chairwoman Joy Davis in the entrance to the foodbank in Wickliffe St, Mosgiel last week. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Mosgiel Community Food Bank co-ordinator Michelle Kerr and Taieri Christian Care Trust chairwoman Joy Davis in the entrance to the foodbank in Wickliffe St, Mosgiel last week. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Mosgiel Community Food Bank has more clients with no fixed abode than ever before, says co-ordinator Michelle Kerr.

‘‘I have more than four [clients] who are sleeping in their cars and I have two who are transient and sleep wherever they can and I’ve got four families who are couch surfing.’’

The bank opened in 1992 and had more homeless clients than ever before, Mrs Kerr said.

Homelessness was ‘‘trending up’’ in Dunedin, she said.

‘‘There is nowhere for these guys to go.’’

Some clients sleeping in cars were being ticketed by Dunedin City Council contractors because they were being mistaken for freedom campers, she said.

She had written letters to the council so clients living in cars could get a ticket waived, Mrs Kerr said.

Many clients were using the bank because landlords had hiked rents in Mosgiel, leaving the tenants short of money for food.

The rents were being increased because of a lack of rental properties in Mosgiel, she said.

‘‘We try to find people places to live but that’s near impossible in Mosgiel.’’

Some clients had children in schools in Mosgiel so if they found cheaper accommodation outside Mosgiel, they had to pay to bus their children to school, or change schools and incur the cost of new school uniforms.

Some clients were from families where both parents worked and still struggled to pay the bills.

‘‘They don’t want to be coming in here and they go away crying but they don’t have a choice . . .these are genuine clients — they aren’t drinking or smoking — they are wanting to make things work and they can’t.’’

People wanting to help the families could give cleaning products, personal products such as shampoo and deodorants, and food, preferably in packets and tins.

Tinned products with ‘‘tear tabs’’ were ideal, as clients often did not own a can opener, she said.

Taieri Christian Care Trust chairwoman Joy Davis said if people wanted to hold a fundraising event in a workplace, the money given to the bank would be used to buy products for clients.

‘‘That’s helpful, too.’’

SHAWN.MCAVINUE@thestar.co.nz 

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